Thursday, March 02, 2006

Ahmed Hussain Macan Markar (AH): his life was exemplary

July 16th, 1985 was a sad day for the Muslim community. When the Muezzin's call for Dhuhr Prayer from the Kuppiyawatte Mosque rented the air, his mortal remains were lowered into the grave. Fourteen years have gone by (2002) but sadly the vacuum created by his death has not been filled in the political, social or educational areas of the muslim community.
Hailing form a family whose ancestral home was in Galle and the ancestral trade was gems, Ahmed Hussain Macan Markar proved to be a Gem of a Man and a real many facetted gem that adorned the community.

After completing his studies at Royal College, Colombo he proceeded to U.K. to enter the University of Cambridge. He returned to Sri Lanka, then as Ceylon as a Barrister-at-Law, not to serve as an erstwhile lawyer but to serve his country and community as a politician and a social worker.

"A.H." as he was popularly known, cut his teeth as a politician in local politics. He untiringly served the people of the Maligakanda Ward for nearly two decades and was one time Deputy Mayor. In parliamentary politics, he chose to represent far off Kalkudah and later Batticaloa seats, where lived a concentration of Muslims needing education for economic and social upliftment. As a politician in both areas - local and national he was sincere, honest and forthright - qualities which many a politician lack in current times. He always had the courage of his conviction to do what he thought was right. When the United National Party - the party to whom he belonged proposed a vote of no confidence on then sitting Mayor of Colombo, dr. N.M. Perera, "A.H." pleaded against the motion thus... "let him carry on, don't be overshadowed by self interest and petty jealousies. It will be the darkest day if we remove such an illustrious figure from our midst."

In his zeal for social service in general, and his goal for the progress of his own community, he actively participated in the activities of many organizations. He was the co-founder and the Honorary Joint Secretary and Treasurer of the Moors' Islamic Cultural Home (Inc.) from its inception and the vice president of the All Ceylon Moors' Association. He was also closely associated with the Ceylon Muslim Educational Society, Peradeniya University Mosque Committee, Ceylon Moor Chamber of Commerce, the Saracen Sports Club and many other societies.

The MICH building in the Fort of Colombo is a permanent monument that silently speaks of his untiring efforts. The university mosque occupying a picturesque spot on the campus of Peradeniya is another edifice that illustrates his zeal and vigour.

Coming to "A.H.", the man, he was simple unassuming and philanthropic. When he was representing the Maligakanda Ward, he was often seen walking along Dematagoda Road serving the poor and needy, when his wealth and status allowed him to ride in a limousine and was meticulously careful with public funds. In this sphere he was a great admirer and ardent follower of the Great Caliph of Islam Hazrat Oma (R.H.)

Thus, Ahmed Hussain Macan Markar was indeed a great and upright man. As a politician, social worker and above all a Muslim, he is an example worthy of emulation. Let us hope - even after 14 years, many an honest muslim statesman will rise to fill the vacuum created by his death ere long.


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